29 June 2019

Philately Workshop in Shimla

 Major (Dr )Ritu Kalra,  noted philatelist from Shimla conducted a workshop on philately, at Loreto Convent Tara Hall School, Shimla on 28th June 2019, organized by the Shimla GPO. She was accompanied by Mr.Ram Tirath Sharma, Ms Aprajita, Mr.D D Sharma and Mr.  Lalit Sharma, from the  postal department. 

Philately Workshop at Loreto Convent Tara Hall,  Shimla

-Major (Dr) Ritu Kalra

It is always wonderful interacting with young   minds   . Being a philatelist I have conducted a number of workshops with children of all age groups  the  enthusiasm seen by them is palpable. When I was asked to hold a talk by a fellow philatelist  for about an hour for about 600 students I agreed but I was  apprehensive   .  600 children   would they be interested? I  have decided to introduce philately to the young audience so eventually everything fell into place . it was a real pleasure to go step by step the stories of the birth of the first stamp, genesis of stamp collection , Indian stamp journey from Scind  Dawk , Victorian lithographs we touched intricate details the World’s first bicoloured stamp also  the Von Angeli portrait in the Queen's stamp walking down memory lane the Monarch’s stamps of king Edward and his successors king George v and vi the kids, fancied stamps of Inauguration of New Delhi , the silver Jubilee stamps also the means of transport and victory stamps.

It was beautiful to see them not wink an eye engrossed in pictures of 'JAI HIND' stamps of independent India they even mesmerized the Douglas aircraft on our stamps their interest was kept alive by the nine stamps on living personalities , they felt the aroma of coffee, sandalwood  they enjoyed rose stamps.  The children were fascinated by the nine living personalities on Indian stamps.

Kids were just fascinated by the concept of errors that how any mistake could be cherished in any field they got engrossed in the stories of the 'BRITISH GUIANA' and the 'MAURITIUS  POST OFFICE' stamps. I could see the minds of children move with me .

The question answer session was but an affirmation of the fact that the children were not only with me listening  attentively it was as if they had walked down memory lane with loads of questions.  The principal sister Nirmla  was impressed and she narrated her experiences of some exhibition that she had attended long ago was imprinted on her mind . I feel that  the visual aspect of the stamps get imprinted  with  indelible ink on any one who looks at stamps.

I am sure that out of the 600 children and a handful of teachers with me in the auditorium of Loretto convent Tara  Hall on 28th of June 2019, all of them are familiar with philately , hopefully I have been able to generate a desire in at least a few of them to pursue this  engrossing hobby that helps widen horizons , bridge generation gaps and above all awaken a desire to know more.

Major (Dr) Ritu Kalra an alumini of Convent of Jesus and Mary and St.Bede’s College completed her dental studies from Himachal Dental College, Sundernagar. Did an advanced course in smile designing from State University  of Buffalo and an MBA (Hospital Management).  Served in the Indian Army in the Dental Corps where she earned three medals 'Special Seva Medal'  with 'Clasp Suraksha' (OPS RHINO) and Assam Arunachal with 'BENGAL CLASP MEDAL'; She  opened her own clinic  post her stint with the army.  With   an  avid   interest in painting   and   philately since childhood, developed  them into a life long passion.   She has won gold (3),   silver (1)   and bronze (1) medal at  state level philatelic exhibition. In addition to the above she has won innumerable gold medals at the district level exhibitions since 2003. She is the founder and President of Himachal Philatelic Club and also member of India Study Circle,UK and a life member of Philatelic Congress of India . She may be contacted at email ritukalra23@yahoo.in

Also view :   An Inspiring History Lesson through Philately Workshop

27 June 2019

New pictorial postmarks from Taiwan and Korea

Pictorial Postmarks from Taiwan


Taiwan Post will issue some new pictorial cancellations on wildlife in the month of June featuring Turtle,Tern, deer and pangolin.




New Pictorial Postmarks  and stamps from Korea


Date of Issue : 1 July 2019


Courtesy - Wolfgang Beyer, Germany

24 June 2019

It's Cricket time......


Nikhilesh Melkote

Cricket season is here again! World Cup cricket fever is upon us. Everywhere, the talk is, whether India can regain the Cup which we won in 1983 and 2011. There are also philatelists, who collect Sports theme, including Cricket, who look upon this event with not only excitement and anticipation, but sadly with disappointment and a sense of “deja vu” . Why is this, one may wonder.

Let us go back a bit in history. When India won the Prudential World Cup in England in 1983, of course, it was an upset of epic proportions. Cricket fans across India were thrilled, and we philatelists among them were expecting that the Post & Telegraph Dept (as it was known then) would honour our heroes by issuing a postage stamp. There was a precedent, of similar historic Cricket Victories being commemorated by a stamp in 1971. This was to mark our cricketers' historic overseas Test Series wins in England and the West Indies (Photo 1).

Even with regard to earlier World Cups, all the countries of the West Indies had commemorated their victory in the First Cup in 1975, by issuing an identical set of “Omnibus” issues. Antigua, the home country of Sir Viv Richards and Sir Andy Roberts, issued a set of 3 stamps to mark the victory (see limited edition FDC in the Photo2).

But sadly, in 1983, there was no such issue from India. There were only a few lucky Cricket Philatelists (including me) who managed to get hold of the Special Postmark issued at the Lords Cricket Ground on 25th June, 1983, the day of the Final (Photo 3). I managed to get this cover autographed by Kapil Dev himself.

A few months later, the Baroda Philatelic Society took it on themselves to commemorate this victory of 1983 by issuing a beautiful private Special Cover, with the cachet depicting the entire team known fondly as “Kapil's Devils”. The postmark shows 2 crossed cricket bats and the Prudential World Cup.The cachet of this cover depicts the entire winning team in a colour photograph, which itself was a rarity in those days of black and white images.(Photo 4)

Then the next landmark came in 1985, when a World Championship of Cricket was held in Australia to mark the 150th Anniversary of the state of Victoria. This tournament was a Mini World Cup, with all the Test paying countries participating. The novelty was the use of coloured uniforms for all the teams. If people thought India winning the World Cup in 1983 was a “fluke”, they did another fluke by winning the WCC in 1985! The cricketing world had to admit that India was the new superpower. But India, sadly again did not feel that the achievements of our cricketers were worth commemorating through a stamp or postmark.

Actually, this was a golden period for Indian cricket. Our team won the Asia Cup and another Limited Overs tournament in Sharjah as well. But no commemoration was forthcoming from the Department. At that time in Oct 1985, we a group of philatelists of Karnataka Philatelic Society, Bangalore took it upon ourselves to commemorate these historic victories through a Special Cover. The occasion was a Charity match held in Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore, between an Indian XI comprising most of the World Cup heroes like Kapil Dev, Srikkanth, Kirmani etc., versus an Ambassadors XI team of county players from England led by Test off-spinner Vic Marks. A couple of these covers were autographed by the players and sold in auction (Photo 5). The proceeds were given to charity. We took care to source the only 2 Cricket stamps issued by India till that date from India Security Press, Nasik, and used these 2 stamps on the covers. We were aware that Special Cover does not have the same philatelic value as a stamp or FDC, but in the absence of any official issue, philatelists need something in their collection to record the achievements for posterity.

The same saga continued for succeeding Cricket World Cups as well. In 1987, India was one of the co-hosts of the event along with Pakistan. But none of these countries issued any stamps. It was only Anguilla, a small nation in the West Indies, which issued a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet. A private Special Cover was however issued to commemorate the Semi-final in Bombay (as it was then known), between India and England (Photo 6). This game however, we sadly lost and Australia went on to win the Cup.

Subsequently, World Cups were held in 1992 (Australia & NZ), 1996 (again in India) and 1999 (England). Again, none of the host countries issued stamps. But the 1992 World Cup was won by Pakistan, who marked their first success with a set of 3 stamps. One of them depicts the victorious captain Imran Khan (who now happens to be their Prime Minister)(Photo 7).

Sri Lanka celebrated their 1996 victory with a beautiful set of 4 Se-Tenant triangular stamps (Photo 8). There is also a Rs.3.50 stamp issued before the tournament started, showing Arjuna Ranatunga, the winning captain.

Next host was South Africa in 2003, who issued a set of 6 lovely stamps to mark the event, showing the “Dazzler”, the Zebra mascot of the Cup.(Photo 9) They had other stamp issues as well. India reached the final, to be outplayed by Australia. Sachin won the golden bat for highest scorer in the tournament, and a Special Cover (again private) was issued in India to honour this feat.

The World Cup 2007 played in West Indies was one full of upsets, with India and Pakistan crashing out early. Many of the West Indian nations issued stamps, souvenir sheets and miniature sheets for the event. Bangladesh, which knocked out India, also issued 2 stamps. But the fascinating story is from Sri Lanka, who reached the final vs. Australia. The Government, being proud of their heroes, had decided to issue 2 stamps, irrespective of the outcome of the final match! 2 sets of designs were prepared, with a picture of the full team and the narration “Sri Lanka, Runners-Up” and “Sri Lanka Winners”. The only difference in the 2 designs was the absence of the Trophy in the former. As it turned out, Australia easily retained the trophy. Sri Lanka still went ahead and released the set of 2 stamps designed for the Runners-Up. The stamps were issued on 30th April 2007,within 2 days of the Final, which was played on 28th April 2007. The illustrations here, show both the proposed design (if Sri Lanka had won) as well as the actual issued stamps. (Photos 10 & 11)

An innovation was introduced to the game with the advent of Twenty20 or “T20” as it is popularly known. This version of the game was not initially popular in India. But the International Cricket Council hosted the first World T20 Championship in South Africa in 2007. Some countries including Bangladesh issued stamps to mark the event. India, like in 1983, created a major sensation by winning the T20 World Cup under the captaincy of M.S. Dhoni. But sadly, again there was no official issue from India. We were grateful that a Special Cover issued during GUJPEX 2007 in Ahmedabad on 7th Oct 2007, commemorates this famous victory.(Photo 12).

In 2011, again India hosted the World Cup, but sadly again, there was no issue of stamps. When India beat Pakistan in the semis and reached the final, we had a flicker of hope that if India wins, there would be a stamp, as in the case of Pakistan and Lanka in the past. But sadly, although India won the Cup, our philatelic hopes were dashed. Again in 2017, India lost the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, which is not as important as the World Cup), to Pakistan. To rub salt into our wounds, Pakistan issued a set of 2 stamps and a Miniature Sheet as well. An error crept into the issue, wherein the flag of Great Britain has been shown on one of the stamps as well as the MS. Actually the participating team was England, which is only a part of Great Britain, and which has its own flag, the Cross of St. George. But the point is, even a stamp with error are better than no stamp at all! The Miniature Sheet clearly also shows some Indian fielders (Men in Blue). This is to probably reiterate that they beat India, which for them is more important than winning the trophy! (Photo 13).

The Cricket World Cup 2015 was commemorated by both the countries who hosted the event, i.e. Australia and New Zealand. Many cricket playing countries issued stamps, except, no guesses, India. India Post however sold at their post officers, a Miniature Sheet issued by New Zealand with logos and flags of all the participants. Australia Post came up with a magnificent idea, issuing a Cover with a commemorative medallion in the Cachet. The medallion has a unique feature, a small sliver of the wooden cricket stump actually used in the matches and certified on the cover itself as “match used stump”. This is a combination Cricket and Philatelic Memorabilia , taking the item to a stratospheric new level of innovation! (Photos 14 & 14a)

I am voicing the disappointment of India's cricket philatelists, because I happen to be one of them. However, the same step-motherly treatment ( I am pained to use these words) has been given to all other sports as well. India as we know, has a glorious history of having won 8 Gold medals in Olympic Hockey. But there is no stamp honouring these victories. There is however a beautiful set of stamps from Dominican Republic honouring Olympic Gold medal winners in various sports. One of them depicts the Indian hockey team and our national flag (Photo 15). If such a tiny country, difficult to find on a world map can honour our heroes, why can't we?

How about Viswanathan Anand, who won not one or 2, but 5 World Chess Championships? Pankaj Advani, with more than 20 Billiards and Snooker titles (and still counting)? Abhinav Bindra, who is the first and only Indian to win individual Olympic Gold in Shooting? Why not honour them? It is not only to serve the purpose to honour these sportsmen individually. It would go a long way in promoting sports in our country. Think of the number of children who would be inspired to take up different sports by seeing these heroes on stamps. Now, some may argue that India as a policy does not honour living individuals. But this argument will fall flat when we quote the precedents of “Maharishi” D.K.Karve, Sir M Visweswaraya etc. who were honoured during their lifetime itself. Why, we need not look beyond the great cricketer Sachin Tendulkar who was rightfully honoured with a set of 2 se-tenant stamps, a MS, Souvenir Sheet etc. But the point is, why be selective? Why not have a policy that every sports achievement will be commemorated equally? Criteria for such issues can be stringent, eg. Olympic Gold medal, World Cup or World Championship Victory only can be eligible.

There are countries like the Netherlands, who have honoured many of their Gold Medal winners not only in the Summer Olympics, but in the Winter Olympics as well. Some of these issues are so wonderful and attractive for young collectors, like the illustrated 3D action stamps of Speed Skaters (Photo 16). At the other extreme, countries who have no connection with the respective sports have commemorated famous Indian sportsmen. Eg. Stamp on V. Anand issued by Comoros Island, and stamps on M.S.Dhoni & Harbhajan Singh issued by Guinea- Bissau. The only Cricket these African countries have is the insect named Cricket which chirps loudly in the night! Philatelists are tempted and forced to collect these undesirable issues ,no more than labels, in the absence of better genuine material for their thematic subjects. Hence this article is titled, “Lament of an Indian Sports Philatelist” not just “Cricket Philatelist”.

Now, coming back to the present, the Cricket World Cup Final is approaching, on 14th July 2019. Is it too late for India Post to plan to issue a stamp or two, when India wins the Cup (we fans are optimistic that India will lift the trophy, but sadly not so optimistic about a stamp issue). If Sri Lanka could plan and issue 2 stamps at short notice, why can't we? Going further, why not have a Policy in co-ordination between the Sports and Communication Ministries, that whoever wins a Gold in any discipline in Tokyo Olympics 2020, will be honoured with a stamp? It would be great incentive to our sportsmen also. The million Rupee question is, “Will it or won't it happen?” Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader.

- Nikhilesh Melkote : email : nmelkote@hotmail.com

About the Author

Nikhilesh Melkote is a noted philatelist from Bangalore. He started collecting stamps in 1974, at the age of 10 years. After joining Mysore Philatelics in 1975 he started collecting thematically and his first theme was Flags. In his very first exhibition MYSOPEX 1976, the Flags exhibit was awarded Silver and Special Prize for Best Youth Exhibit. He moved to Bangalore in 1977 and joined the Karnataka Philatelic Society which was then in its infancy. Under the guidance of stalwarts like Col. L G Shenoi and Mr Y R Shah, he was further able to develop his collection. Other awards won for the collection which was later titled “Flying Colours”, include Large Silver + Spl Prize for Thematics at INPEX 1982, National Exhibition, Jaipur and Silver Bronze at AUSIPEX 1984, International, Melbourne

Meanwhile, his essay titled “Vexicollogy through Philately” published in 1978 in Delhi Stamp Magazine, won Gold medal + 2 special prizes at INJUNPEX –International Year of the Child 1979 Exhibition held at UN Headquarters, New York, USA in Literature Class.

Nikhilesh has also been an Apprentice Juror at KARNAPEX 1986 State Level, and Juror at CHAMUNDIPEX 2014, District Level, Mysuru. He also collects Portuguese India and recently took up a new theme, Cricket. His Cricket exhibit was awarded Large Silver at KARNAPEX 2015 State Level exhibition.

He is at present Vice-President of Karnataka Philatelic Society, Bengaluru since 2017, having served as General Secretary during the previous term.

By profession, Nikhilesh is a banker having worked in 3 different Banks over a period of 29 years. He recently took voluntary retirement from ICICI Bank having served as Regional Manager. Now he is a finance consultant and lives in Bengaluru with his wife and 15 year old son.    

22 June 2019

New stamps from India

Indian Fashion - Sari in myriad forms

Series 2

Date of Issue :  12 June 2017

Ahimsa Parmo Dharma

Date of Issue : 17 June 2019

21 June 2019

Crypto Stamp

Date of Issue : 11 June 2019

Here is an extraordinary stamp issued by Austria Post "Crypto Stamp" using the latest software technology ' Ethereum blockchain'. A collectible item for stamp collectors. It is definitely a unique item issued for the first time in the world by Austria Post. 

According to the press release, the so-dubbed “crypto stamp” is the first stamp in the world to be authenticated via blockchain technology. The postal service has reportedly issued 150,000 copies sold at € 6.90 apiece.

When purchased, the stamp set comes in two parts. As pictured below, the left part, which is stylized with a unicorn associated with Ethereum, functions as a standard stamp that can be used to send mail. The right section, on the other hand, contains the credentials used to authenticate the crypto collectible via blockchain.

Austria Post launches Crypto Stamp

Stamps go Digital

With the innovative crypto stamp, Austrian Post is for the first time offering a stamp which also exists as a digital asset (crypto collectible) in the Ethereum blockchain, and is thus breaking completely new ground.

The blockchain is a special form of decentralised immutable data storage. For this, data are not stored in a single computer centre but are distributed across many independent computers. A sophisticated mechanism ensures that completed transactions cannot be subsequently manipulated. Using the QR code printed on the stamp, the owner can look at the digital version of his/her crypto stamp in the Ethereum blockchain and then transfer it to other users.

The Crypto Stamp

The crypto stamp on the one hand comprises the physical stamp which you can remove from the mini sheet along the perforated line and use for postage like any “normal” stamp. The second part of the sheet contains (in addition to the stamp), concealed under a scratch-off layer, access data (address and private key) to a so-called wallet, a “virtual wallet”. This contains the associated digital crypto stamp. In the Ethereum blockchain everybody can see which wallet address the digital crypto stamp is assigned to. However, the identity of the owner of this wallet address is not visible.

Only the owner of the private key belonging to the wallet can access the crypto stamp. On the mini sheet this code is given in the form of a “secret word list” which is revealed after scratching off the coating on the third section. This code enables the owner to access the pre-configured wallet address and also to transfer the stamp to other wallets. Every transfer of ownership is irreversibly documented in the blockchain so that legal ownership can always be proven.

The unicorn depicted on the stamp block has a symbolic meaning: successful start-up companies valued at at least one billion US dollars are referred to as unicorns in the world of business as they are just as rare as these mythical creatures. The unicorn is also the heraldic animal used to represent the Ethereum community.

How Blockchain Will Invade Everyday Life

Austria’s crypto stamp is but a first glimpse at the future of digital property. The use case is relatively novel compared to the types of things you can do with your blockchain wallet in the future. One day it will be possible to prove ownership of a car or a right to a rental of any kind. Or perhaps the most common use will be paying tolls and transit fares.

The possibilities are endless. But the blockchain wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if it were merely one more paper-generating layer on the gears of our commerce system. Instead, blockchain offers the ability for people to retain permanent receipts. The need for multiple wallets will make itself evident when people are shuffling thousands of on-chain tokens instead of papers. The upside is clear: you’ll never lose your birth certificate again.

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